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  • Writer's pictureJane Brook

January Newsletter 2024

Updated: Feb 2

A frosty and quiet start to the year.


New member welcome:

image credit: Clive Sawyer

We’ve a number of things to update you on this month, but we’re very conscious that there is a great deal more in the pipeline including some VERY EXCITING news that we just can’t talk about yet. 🤐 Yes we’re being annoyingly cryptic but we will update you as soon as we can – needless to say it’s been an incredibly busy month for Rye Chamber – you’ll just have to take our word on it for now!

Environment, Climate Change & Sustainability


As we stated in our December newsletter - Environment, Climate Change & Sustainability will be a core focus for Rye Chamber in 2024. Why? in 2019 Rother District Council formally declared a Climate Emergency and committed to make Rother District carbon neutral by 2030. Rye Town Council has yet to align itself with Rother's target which the chamber is frustrated by. To that end, we hosted at chamber HQ a meeting of stakeholders in town who share that frustration to discuss how we can progress a more forward thinking agenda.


Working group in progress

Quite apart from the ecological necessity, the demand for all businesses to demonstrate a coherent response to the climate crisis is growing fast - from a regulatory perspective, mandatory disclosure such as SECR has filtered downstream and SME's are seeing an step change in:

  • Consumer/customer demand for demonstrable climate commitments

  • Their social and environmental commitments attracting the best workforce

  • Increasing investor requirement to see ESG scores

  • Supply chain demand for climate disclosure and sustainable products and materials



Where to start? This is what we’re kicking off with:


Tenterden People, Planet, Pint.

People Planet Pint is a global movement by Small99 on a hyper-local level. The first Rye People Planet Pint event was held in November and was a great success. This month we crossed the border to Tenterden for more connections who might be useful to us all here in Rye when we start our regular monthly sustainability meet ups. The next Rye edition will be 7th March at the Queen’s Head and will be repeated on the 1st Thursday of the month. We hope that if you didn’t make the last one you’ll come along to meet other likeminded businesses – not just local – but from the surrounding area to share ideas, best practice, guidance and support as we all move forward in our sustainability journeys. Book your place here.



 

New tools for the Chamber🌱

Another fantastic initiative by sustainability hub Small99 is CRAB 🦀 – Carbon Reduction Action plan in a Box.  CRAB is a simple, high speed, and accessible workshop that is for any small business who is feeling lost and overwhelmed. Jane, Sarah, Elise and Dominic are all in the process of becoming facilitators so the Chamber can now offer everything YOU need to get started with a carbon reduction plan - we've got your back!

  • Overview of business opportunity from climate action

  • Carbon Footprint Estimate of their business

  • Set of reduction action cards to build a plan

  • Certificate of reduction actions

  • Access to accountability sessions

  • CPD Accreditation


The first 🦀 session will be in March. To register info@ryechamber.org


 

The chamber only has a small team of passionate volunteers driving these initiatives, and we are very aware of our limitations as we all have our own businesses to run at the same time! On you behalf, we have sought out further strategic partnerships to draw upon.

We are now members of  Clean Growth UK – A network of progressive, climate conscious businesses that will help us connect with resources to innovate and grow and potentially access funding opportunities for ‘green’ initiatives for Rye.


We’ve also connected with Green Street  – an organisation helping small retailers and hospitality businesses work together to slash their carbon footprint and become more sustainable as quickly as possible. More on this in next month's newletter.


 
Lucie Bolton

We met with Lucie Bolton, Environment Strategy Officer for Rother District Council. Lucie is the lead on Rother’s Climate Strategy and Climate Action Plan and we talked about how best Rye can move forward on its Carbon Reduction journey. There’s plenty more that will follow on this subject over coming months but for now Lucie signposted some grant funding for capital projects under the banner of sustainability currently open for applications. Rye Chamber will be looking at each of these opportunities to consider eligibility and suitable next steps. 


So it’s been a deep dive into all matters environmental for the Chamber this month. Many of these are new connections and so we are still exploring the potential of working together but we’re sure you agree that the start point for any change comes from having conversations so we’ll report back as we discover more.

 

Rye Roundup: your at-a-glance digest of Chamber activity for the last month


Like many patrons, visitors and businesses in town, the Chamber supported The George in its 'support our colour' campaign regarding the exterior paintwork after retrospective planning permission was rejected. The saga got a brief mention at the (rather lively) town council’s January meeting which Jane and Sarah attended, where other business dominated proceedings.


Public Loos

Conscious of the number of complaints that businesses in the town are receiving about the closure of the public loos on the Strand Quay and Gun Gardens, we lobbied the town council to suggest they create a survey on their website, promoted on social media for the purposes of gauging public opinion more widely, and then use this data to present a case to Rother District Council as the public convenience is their responsibility. There is no update to report as yet.


Welcome to Rye!

We’re also aware of the recent graffiti and unacceptable unsanitary conditions of the Station Approach the public conveniences and duly reported it via Rother District Council’s website. Their website states …

“From time to time, vandalism, abuse or inappropriate use of facilities can occur in public toilets. If you see or witness any vandal damage or abuse, or have any information regarding any incidents, please call 01424 787000. Calls will be treated in the strictest confidence. Alternatively call the Police on 0845 60 70 999. Your help in keeping our toilets in an acceptable condition is much valued and appreciated.”
image credit : John Rogers

Alternatively, you can report to Rother using this link .


We’ve consulted with Bexhill Chamber on this issue. They have been lobbying RDC directly advising them to appoint contractors to operate the public conveniences in Bexhilll and around Rother District. 


Do you think the facilities in Rye should be managed differently? Email us on info@ryechamber.org with your suggestions and we can help put pressure on the council to improve this sorry state of affairs.


 

Tourism


We are aware that businesses and attractions in the town are being approached by the town council about the production of a new Rye Town Visitor Map. We've heard mixed feelings about this from members – given we already have a very recognisable and well loved map in use throughout the town. We understand that many are concerned that there was no consultation about his decision by Rye Town Council before progressing this idea and that perhaps greater collaboration with the Chamber and other stakeholders in town may have produced a different strategy for the limited budget the town council has available. Rye Chamber will be meeting with the council again in due course to discuss plans going forward.


Connecting People  / Networking


Menopause Café and Kino Rye – Rye Chamber met with new member Nicola Vinall a Menopause practitioner looking to establish a space in which women can meet for free guidance and support during menopause. You can find her at The Kino on 1st March 11am - 12:30pm. For more information email info@nicolavinall.com


We are getting close to announcing the content and guest speakers for the first of our quarterly networking events for 2024 on Weds 13th March. Save the date - you REALLY don’t want to miss it!


Useful Links / Coming Soon / Dates For Your diary


The Chamber is talking to Ameesha Bhugwandeen – Local Enterprise Manager, NatWest regarding the provision of a free small business growth training course for members. Watch this space! 


Small Business Saturday has a free seminar: How to Scale Up Your Business – a step by step guide. It will be at 10am on thursday 8th Feb  you can sign up for it here


Small Business Saturday also has a cash prize of £1000 up for grabs in their draw if you take part in their sustainability survey. Link to enter is here:


 


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